Takeuchi Takes Middleweight King of Pancrase Title

By Jason Nowe and Stephen Martinez Nov 28, 2007
TOKYO, Nov. 28 -- It was a tough night for Izuru Takeuchi at Pancrase's final event of this year's "Rising Tour."

The main event on Wednesday featured a title match between SK Absolute fighter Takeuchi and middleweight King of Pancrase Yuichi Nakanishi (Pictures). This fight was in fact a rematch of a December 2006 bout, in which Nakanishi took a unanimous decision to become the sixth middleweight KOP.

Since that match, Nakanishi has become one of the most obscure champions in Pancrase, fighting only once -- a loss outside of the promotion to Tim McKenzie (Pictures) in the Bodog Fight Vancouver event.

This meant that Wednesday's rematch against the very man Nakanishi beat almost a year ago to attain the title was also Nakanishi's first defense.

The bout was definitely more of a technical battle than an all-out slobberknocker. Both the first and second rounds played out almost exactly the same: The two fighters would joust a little, then Takeuchi would get a clinch at the ropes, eventually trip his opponent to the mat, end up with side control and basically pin him there until Nakanishi eventually put him back into guard in the last 20 seconds.

The third round saw a bit more excitement. After a break by the referee, Nakanishi landed a clean one-two combination that sent Takeuchi staggering to the ropes. However, the middleweight champion could not capitalize on the advantage before his opponent had him wrapped up in a clinch again.

The referee continued to be more proactive in the third, breaking up the fighters much sooner than before. A few more clashes ensued, and the two fighters traded punches in the final 10 seconds before the bell.

The judges' votes were tallied, and this time Takeuchi walked away the victor, becoming the seventh middleweight King of Pancrase.

Daiki "DJ Taiki" Hata faced Nova Uniao's Marlon Sandro in a non-title matchup.

Sandro came out swinging for the fences in this one, connecting with a solid one-two punch combination seconds after the opening bell that had Hata staggered. The Brazilian kept the pressure on, charging forward with excellent flurries of punches that forced Hata to cover up and backpedal to avoid the shots.

Hata survived the initial storm, collected himself and slowed the pace of the fight somewhat, but Sandro continued to connect with hard jabs from a distance as well as grazing crosses and hooks to the head.

From about the middle of the first round until the end of the fight, the Brazilian scored every takedown he attempted. Hata generally prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and can usually avoid most of the takedowns thrown at him, but Sandro put him down at will.

On the mat the Nova Uniao fighter threw punches to the head and body, but Hata would eventually tie him up and wait for the referee to stand them.

Hata couldn't seem to connect with his opponent, though. Sandro kept the charge going all the way to the final bell and walked away with a unanimous decision that kept his undefeated record intact.

In the evening's only heavyweight battle, U-File Camp's Tatsuya Mizuno (Pictures) squared off against New Japan Factory's Masayuki Kono (Pictures).

Since former heavyweight KOP Kestutis "Tiger" Arbocius no-showed for an October title bout against current champion Assuerio Silva (Pictures) and now seems to be out of the promotion, this match pretty much served as the unofficial No. 1 contender bout for the division.

Mizuno put on a good grappling clinic in the opening few minutes. He scored the takedown, moved all the way to the mount, applied a triangle followed by a strong heel hook attempt and finally finished with his opponent's back before being signaled to stand by the referee.

Once on the feet, Mizuno connected with a huge left hand that sent Kono crashing to the mat. From here the U-File Camp fighter followed his opponent to the ground and unleashed a barrage of punches until the referee stopped the fight at the 3:28 mark.

With his win, it looks as if Mizuno will have to face Assuerio Silva (Pictures), the man who beat him for the then-vacated title.

Killer Bee's Michihisa Asano (Pictures) displayed some excellent wrestling, often getting AJ Gym's Tomoki Murayama to the mat with lightening-fast shots. On the ground Asano did a very good job of controlling his opponent's legs, keeping him pinned to the mat and working for the pass.

To his credit, Murayama worked back to his feet several times and nearly caught Asano with a flying knee, but he just couldn't escape the textbook takedowns. Even when he sprawled, Asano would still push forward and eventually get him to his back. In the end, Asano took the decision after controlling throughout.

SK Absolute's Takuya Wada (Pictures) avoided Seiki Ryo (Pictures)'s long legs and arms to score takedowns in their welterweight battle. Once on the ground, Wada displayed some good timing, taking the mount just as his opponent bridged to escape the bottom. On top, Wada fired down some strong punches en route to a unanimous decision.

It didn't take long for Killer Bee's Shinsuke Shoji (Pictures) to take down Wataru Takahashi (Pictures) in the Team Sakurabatake fighter's Pancrase debut. From within the guard, Shoji picked up and slammed his opponent into the mat, then followed up with a flurry of punches.

Takahashi couldn't answer back, forcing the referee to stop the bout at 52 seconds into the first frame.
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